There will be junior lacrosse this summer.
While specific details are still being worked out, the BC Junior A Lacrosse League (BCJALL) has announced it plans to stage a special series of games to showcase its players to scouts for the Western Lacrosse Association and National Lacrosse League as well as recruiters from NCAA programs.
BCJALL commissioner Karl Christiansen said the “Summer Showcase Series” will likely face-off in early July, with each of the league’s eight teams hosting games in their home arenas. Those include the Coquitlam Jr. Adanacs that play at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex, and the PoCo Saints that is based at the new Port Coquitlam Community Centre, as well as Copeland Arena for the Burnaby Lakers and Queen’s Park Arena, the home of the New Westminster Jr. Salmonbellies.
Christiansen said while Phase 2 of British Columbia’s four-step restart plan that is likely to kick in June 15 will allow the resumption of competitive indoor sports, limited numbers of spectators won’t be allowed in arenas until the province reaches Phase 3; that is expected to take effect on July 1 at the earliest.
Instead, Christiansen added, the league is trying to make arrangements for livestream feeds of games that can be viewed at home by fans, family and scouts.
Christiansen said it’s imperative the league get back to developing young players as soon as possible after it was idled by COVID-19 public health restrictions last summer. So far this year, continuing restrictions mean players have only been able to work out in small groups.
“We… know this pandemic has taken a toll on the athletes, both psychologically and physically,” he said. “It’s important for all lacrosse people to get a chance to see the fastest game on two feet played at our level.”
Christiansen said the league monitored efforts by the BC Hockey League to get its players back on the ice for competitive games for a five-week season last March and April, but setting up pods of regional rivals at centralized facilities with quarantining and regular testing is out of reach for the junior lacrosse loop that is much smaller and plays a shorter season.
But, he added, with the province’s vaccination campaign to protect people from the virulent contagion hitting its stride and infection rates trending downward, he was confident junior lacrosse could get back on the floor this summer. Plans to achieve that then accelerated when provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the restart plan in May.
“We hope that everything goes as planned,” Christiansen said.
In early May, Lacrosse Canada announced the cancellation of nine national youth championships, including the Founders’ Cup Junior B title.
Less than two weeks later, the plug was pulled on the 2021 Mann Cup national championship for senior players.
And while there’s yet to be an official announcement about the fate of the Minto Cup junior national championship, varying timelines across the country for the resumption of games make it unlikely.
Christiansen said in addition to giving BCJALL players a chance to advance their ambitions, the summer showcase will also be an important step in rebuilding relationships with sponsors as well as reconnecting with younger players in community associations.
“We are almost at the end of the road,” he said. “We are just as thrilled as everyone else to return to some level of normalcy.”